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Walmart Launches Kobo e-Book Program With Rakuten

The effort includes a new audiobook subscription service.

A recent partnership between Walmart and Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten bore fruit today with the launch of a Kobo-based e-book program.

The pact, announced last January, gives Walmart customers access to more than 6 million titles through the Rakuten-owned Kobo library, using the service’s e-readers or co-branded Android and iOS apps.

Walmart has begun selling an assortment of Kobo’s Aura and Clara series e-readers online, and will offer the Aura model in its stores later this week. Customers will also be able to purchase nearly 40 titles from an in-store selection of digital book cards.

The program, formally dubbed Walmart eBooks by Rakuten Kobo, also features a subscription-based audiobook service for $9.99 (and one audiobook) per month, with a 30-day free trial.

Walmart’s also offering $10 off an a la carte e-book or audiobook to first-time customers.

The discounter’s strategic alliance with Rakuten also extends to an online grocery service set to launch this quarter in Japan. Both initiatives are seen as attempts to blunt Amazon’s book and food delivery businesses.

See: Walmart’s Band Of Brothers

“Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan,” Walmart president/CEO Doug McMillon said earlier this year of the partnership.